EMERSON’S FINANCIAL HEALTH
By Clinton Bench
On behalf of Treasurer Leslie Reuter
It’s been a little over a month since the end of Fiscal Year 2016, which closed on multiple notes of optimism for Emerson. In our recent congregational meetings, we spoke about the importance of welcoming a new minister to our community with solid financial footing, and through the continued generosity of our members and friends, we’ve been able to achieve that goal. That said, a substantial portion of our investment reserves has been used during this time of transition. So, Emerson’s financial team will continue to stay focused on our monthly cash flow while supporting robust fundraising and stewardship activities over the coming year and reestablishing appropriate reserves.
The most important piece of news about our past fiscal year is that the mortgage is paid off! Period! We can’t say “thank you” enough to all the members and friends who made special contributions to the mortgage reduction initiative, including those who stepped up at the end of the year to get us over the approximately $6,000 hump we projected we’d have remaining on the mortgage at the end of June. This even allowed us to pay off the mortgage a month earlier—in May!
We also remained frugal in our regular monthly expenses last year with spending being about 5% less than our budgeted amount. And while income was also lower than budgeted by about 1%, this allowed our planned operating deficit for the year to be a bit less than planned. Extra contributions in June played an important role in this result, and were no doubt due to both a strong faith in the continued mission of Emerson in our greater community, as well as the optimism surrounding the new minister’s upcoming arrival.
While of course it’s super news not to have annual mortgage payments of over $50,000 to worry about next year, the congregation did authorize the financial team in FY 2014 to take $140,000 from the General Benefit Fund (investments) to help “burn the mortgage.” The congregation also approved in June 2015 withdrawals of close to the remaining balance in the fund to cover cash flow shortfall and building repairs, resulting in the operating deficit mentioned before.
The reasons for drawing down on our investment fund over the last couple years were sound, but it’s important to note that the funds left are far less than that needed for any future cash flow shortfalls, emergency funds, or building repairs. To address this, the congregation has approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that includes a small monthly replenishment of our maintenance reserves and calls for an active fundraising and stewardship effort.
The bottom line? Emerson is positioned to welcome our new minister with a prior year’s budget that met its goals, a mortgage that’s paid off, and a congregation that’s demonstrated a commitment to financial stewardship. By growing that commitment and remaining vigilant to maintain a balanced cash flow over the coming year, our congregation is well positioned to support one another and share our message with the broader community.